Ransomware is a leading threat in cybersecurity for large-scale companies and individuals alike. It’s one of the worst forms of malware to get, as a simple click on a suspicious email can lead to all your private data being locked down and your PC being rendered useless.
Over the past few years, ransomware has caused mayhem around the world. The first half of 2022 saw an estimated 236.1 million ransomware attacks globally, and 93% of the malicious software is Windows-based. In an exclusive interview with Bitdefender, Director of Threat Research and Reporting Bogdan Botezatu states that ransomware “shows that one small lapse in protection can completely kill years’ worth of your data.”
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to have ransomware protection to stay clear of your data being taken hostage. Fortunately, your Windows PC already comes with this protection – you just need to turn it on.
Follow the steps below to turn on ransomware protection on your Windows PC.
How to turn on Windows ransomware protection
Windows 10 and Windows 11 come with ransomware protection as part of Microsoft’s Windows Security suite. It’s a handy security tool that restricts applications from accessing, changing or encrypting the files in specific folders. This is key in defending against malware such as ransomware, as it prevents hackers from sneaking their way into folders to steal and lock down your private data.
However, the security feature is turned off by default. This is due to certain apps that aren’t automatically listed as friendly not functioning properly, as they won’t be able to access certain files. The good news is you can allow a trusted app to access files; it just requires extra steps.
By turning on Controlled folder access, you can keep your files, and computer, protected from ransomware.
- On your device, type in “Virus & threat protection” in the search field located on the taskbar.
- Select Virus & threat protection.
- A window will pop up. Under Virus & threat protection settings, select Manage settings.
- On the next page, make sure to turn on Real-time protection.
- Scroll down and select Manage Controlled folder access.
- Switch in Controlled folder access.
With this turned on, key folders such as Windows system folders, your default documents and pictures folders with be protected by default. You can add more trusted folders to protect by selecting Protected folders > Add a protected folder.
To make sure that the apps you want to be protected are working properly, you can select Allow an app through Controlled folder access > Add an allowed app.
If ransomware does (unfortunately) make its way onto your system, Microsoft OneDrive has a ransomware data recovery feature that backs up and restores your files. With Microsoft 365, you can save up to 1TB of cloud storage that can be recovered.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware that cybercriminals use to restrict access to files on a victim’s device, encrypting user data and demanding a ransom payment in order to gain access to them. If users don’t comply, these hackers will threaten them by leaking personal data they’ve locked down. It’s like someone changing the lock on your door, making new copies of a key, and asking for an outrageous sum of money to gain access to your property again – or they’ll sell off everything you own.
If a ransom is paid off, hackers will release the decryption key for users to gain access to their files again – or so they say. Furthermore, threat actors will make large claims that they haven’t just locked your files but have also obtained sensitive information on your device (a.k.a data theft), convincing users they can easily leak your data online. However, they may not have this data at all; cybercriminals are just bluffing their way to stealing your hard-earned cash.
These fear tactics convince victims that they must fork over a specific ransom, but these hackers may not give you access to your files once you’ve made the transaction, and they may not even have your data at all. This is why it’s important to never comply and to make sure you have the right ransomware protection so you’re never in this position in the first place.
Use an antivirus to block ransomware
Your PC’s ransomware protection offers a reliable way to keep your personal information and files safe from threat actors, but the best antivirus software can do a lot more to fend off malware.
Providers such as Bitdefender, Avast One and Malwarebytes have excellent detection and protection rates that defend against all forms of malware, meaning they can block and get rid of ransomware before it gets its hands on your personal files. They also analyse and scan through malicious websites and emails to make sure you don’t mistakenly download ransomware in the first place.
For a better look at different antivirus software and which is the best for you, check out our reviews: